Incumbent Holden bowls over Paterno
Pennsylvania 17th Congressional District
(CNN) -- Incumbent Democrat Tim Holden proved that name recognition isn't necessarily everything, as he easily won re-election in Pennsylvania's 17th District.
Holden's Republican opponent was Scott Paterno, son of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. The name factor didn't go nearly as far as Republicans had hoped.
A mid-October poll taken by the American Research Group showed Holden held a lead of 48 percent to 36 percent, and that his job-approval rating was 53 percent. That made Paterno's task of trying to prove Holden a bad fit for the community nearly impossible.
Also hurting Paterno, a 32-year-old Derry Township attorney making his first run for public office, was a lack of funding, as he'd been forced to use the lion's share of his money to win a hard-fought, five-way primary in May.
Paterno wasn't the GOP's first choice to try to unseat Holden, but when their first choices, including Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico, passed on the race, the party was left with seven first-time congressional candidates seeking the nomination.
While the Paterno family name was well respected, Holden came from a family rich in political tradition. His father, Joseph "Sox" Holden was a four-term County Commissioner and his great grandfather, John Siney, was founder of the Miners Benevolent Association, which evolved into the United Mine Workers.
Holden served seven years as the Sheriff of Schuykill County, where he instituted the D.A.R.E. program to educate students about the danger of drugs.
Elected to Congress in 1993, Holden has been a member of the Agriculture Committee and currently serves on the Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee and is the ranking member on the Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research Subcommittee. He also was appointed to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves on the Highways and Transit and Aviation Subcommittees.
Holden and Paterno agreed on many social issues -- both are anti-gun control and anti-abortion -- and both supported the war in Iraq. Paterno attempted to separate himself from Holden by promising full support to the Bush agenda, i.e. making the president's tax cuts permanent, allowing younger Americans to invest a portion of their Social Security withholding taxes in private accounts and eliminating estate taxes.
Holden opposed Bush's tax cuts, arguing that they were too large and benefited the wealthy while growing the deficit. He voted to support tax cuts for the middle class, families and would exempt estates from taxes for individuals up to $3 million and families up to $6 million.